Point of Beginning

Web Exclusive! Musing About the Museum?

April 1, 2004
Experience a virtual tour of the only surveying museum in North America through POB's bonus online photo coverage!

To read the article corresponding to these photos, click here: Conserving Surveying

After POB staff toured the Museum of Surveying in Lansing, Mich., we realized it would not be possible for us to print all of the photos we took in our April issue. Posted here are several photos of the Museum of Surveying for your enjoyment.

Walking in the front door, visitors to the museum are greeted by Lisa Jacobs, executive director.

A tour of the museum begins with this case highlighting famous surveyors, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and even Benjamin Banneker. Banneker, known as the first black man in science, surveyed Washington, D.C. This case contains an early wooden compass, circa 1820, made by H. S. Pearson.

Next, visitors are led into the main gallery.

Inside the vertical cases is a chronological progression of instruments, beginning with compasses.

This Rittenhouse compass is missing its base, but it is one of the earliest with east and west reversed on the face. Benjamin Rittenhouse's brother David invented this feature that became a hallmark of North American-made surveying compasses. (Benjamin Rittenhouse, Philadelphia, Pa., ca. 1780)

This compass has a variation arc and vernier mechanism so it can compensate for magnetic variation. (Thomas Whitney, Philadelphia, Pa., 1820)

William Austin Burt invented this solar compass because the iron deposits in the Upper Midwest made it hard for surveyors to close corners with traditional compasses. Burt's solar compass sold for roughly $137. (William J. Young, Philadelphia, Pa., ca. 1840)

The compass collection is followed by cases featuring transits and levels.

This precision transit was sold by L. Beckmann Co. for $250. (L. Beckmann Co., Toledo, Ohio, ca. 1885)

One display case in the museum solely features old Wild instruments. The Swiss maker had an incredible impact on surveying.

This cutaway of a Wild theodolite details the light paths through the unit.

Continuing to showcase the advancement of technology, the back wall of the museum features EDMs from the 1960s and 1970s.

After learning about the progression of surveying instruments and procedures, museum visitors are invited to explore other aspects of the profession highlighted in the main gallery.

One corner of the museum replicates a Michigan surveyor's office from the 1940s, complete with stadia rod and snowshoes.

In this forest vignette, a compass and a bearing tree re-create the early days (circa 1815-1840) of surveying.

The museum's "Buy a Brick" campaign acknowledges donations by featuring donors' names and companies on displayed bricks.

Currently, most of the museum's collection of books and maps is in storage. With increased funding, the museum will create a more accessible library area for its patrons.

This statue, titled "Old Bearing Tree" by Jim McNealey, is a fitting reflection of the Museum of Surveying. On one side, the old surveyor with a solar compass has marked a tree. On the other side the modern surveyor with a total station has found the original bearing.